Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared “victory” over the al-Shabaab militants who seized Nairobi’s Westgate mall, saying five of the 16 attackers are dead and the rest captured.
The death toll of the four day siege remains uncertain, and the official toll of 67 dead and 240 wounded is expected to continue to rise as parts of the multi-story mall collapsed during the offensive and a number of bodies are believed to be buried in the rubble.
It’s going to be awfully tough for Kenya to credibly claim this as a victory, since the attack wasn’t a serious attempt to conquer the mall outright, and the massive toll was naturally al-Shabaab’s goal.
Rather the focus is going to be on the security failure it represents, and what it means for the internal power struggle within al-Shabaab, and its ability to organize attacks outside of its territory in Somalia.
Kenyan Foreign Ministry officials are also confirming to some extent the reports of Western attackers being involved, saying that there were at least “two or three” American attacks and a Briton among the 16. Al-Shabaab’s list claimed six Americans.